With gorgeous weather predicted for the weekend and an itch for the outdoors, I made a spontaneous decision to go camping. The last trip to the Hawkesbury River was over a year ago, so it was long overdue!
As my chapter in Sydney is coming to a close, I’m feeling a lot more motivated to get out and explore places in NSW that won’t be so easily available after I move. Take, for example, the Central Coast — I’ve heard plenty of great things, but I’ve never been. After a last minute scramble on Google to find an available campsite, we settled on Canton Beach Holiday Park in Toukley.
What I love about camping is that you can visit somewhere new without breaking the bank. We probably never would have driven up to Toukley and booked a hotel, but for a $25 unpowered camping spot, we can see somewhere new and enjoy the area overnight. Once you’ve built up the equipment you need, just pull it out of storage and off you go!
It’s a leisurely drive there from Sydney at just under 90 minutes. On arrival, the staff were very friendly and we quickly checked in and set up. This holiday park is more known for its pretty cabins and caravans, but the camping area is pleasantly spacious; there’s nothing worse than being cramped up next to your neighbour. The toilets are clean, the showers are hot and it has a family friendly atmosphere. Our tent looked out onto the water and was right on top of Canton Beach so there were no excuses to get out and stretch the legs!
The following morning, after a reading session on the grass (currently reading The Mummy Bloggers by Holly Wainwright), we headed out (10-minute drive) to Norah Head Lighthouse — a beautifully restored former lighthouse. It was a scorcher of a day, which made the white paintwork of the lighthouse ‘pop’ beautifully against the blue sky. It’s a popular wedding service location, though the tour guide later told us that they once had a bride who requested her photographer to edit out the water in the background. Crazy!
We did the tour on a whim and it was great! It involves a climb up the 96 stairs and a 360-degree view from the tower balcony, where due to the good weather, we could see both Sydney and Newcastle in the distance. You can even spot whales on a good day. Our tour guide told us all about the duties of a lighthouse keeper, how the light was originally operated, shipwreck stories and a little about the local Aboriginal culture. I learned a lot and looked out at a stunning view so I’m really glad we went up there.
All in all, it was a casual 24-hour trip, but we made use of a perfect sunny day, got some fresh air (the joy of living in an apartment) and recharged the batteries for another week of work.